Former AIT director says ‘one China’ misleading

STOP USAGE::US officials should also refrain from mentioning the Three Joint Communiques ‘as if they were the Bible,’ former AIT director William Stanton said

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

Sun, Jan 27, 2019 - Page 3

The US government should forgo all references to “one China” in the context of Taiwan-related issues and policies, because the term is imprecise and misleading as Taiwan was never part of China, former American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) director William Stanton said yesterday.

Stanton, who headed the AIT’s Taipei office from 2009 to 2012, made the appeal during a speech on Taiwan-China policy in the US at a Taichung luncheon, which was organized by the Tai-Yang Cultural and Educational Foundation.

Taiwan was never part of China and the use of “one China,” which has always meant something different to Washington and Beijing, is inaccurate, misleading and confusing, Stanton said, adding that Washington should no longer say that it has a “one China” policy, as “that does not mean anything anymore.”

The US government should also refrain from mentioning the Three Joint Communiques “as if they were the Bible,” Stanton said.

The first communique had the facts wrong and the third was effectively repudiated by the “six assurances” given to Taiwan by then-US president Ronald Reagan in 1982, he said.

Another problem is that Beijing and Washington have interpreted the first communique differently, Stanton added.

“They [the Chinese] use a different verb to say we acknowledge the Chinese position and they say cheng ren [承認, “agree with”], which has different meanings,” he said, referring to a section in the first part of the 1982 US-China joint communique that says that the US “acknowledged the Chinese position that there is but one China and Taiwan is part of China.”

Washington should initiate, but not necessarily advertise, exchanges of high-level officials between Taiwan and the US as called for in the Taiwan Travel Act, which was signed into law by US President Donald Trump in March, Stanton said.

However, Taiwan should carefully weigh the potential risk of such visits, he said.

Stanton was wary about a potential visit by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to Washington, which some seem to be bandying about lately, including Joseph Bosco, former China country director in the office of the US secretary of defense, in an opinion piece on Monday last week in the political newspaper The Hill.

“If we are going to provoke China, it should be [for something] of lasting importance to Taiwan. I think that is the view of many people,” Stanton said, adding that Tsai should decide how much she would like to push for such a visit.

Asked on Tuesday last week to comment on Bosco’s piece, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs denied that Tsai planned to visit Washington, but did not elaborate.